iPad Widens MacSchism

More

Technology's wars of religion are back. Steven Johnson, taking the theme of his ingenious Everything Bad Is Good for You to a new level, has learned to stop worrying and love the App Store, closed architecture and all, with a few mild suggestions: the "walled garden" could really be "a rain forest."

Nicholas Carr (in turn quoting Cory Doctorow; thanks to Dan Bloom for the link), Aaron Gell , and Tim Cavanaugh beg to differ.

Interestingly, some of the most severe critics appear to be wounded Apple loyalists -- the kind thrilled by the original Mac 1984 commercial  -- now dismayed by the company's alleged shift of attention from productive "makers" to consuming "takers."

Even before the iPad unveiling, the CNBC film MacHEADS, released in January, dramatized this cultural change. From the transcript

00:34:08    << Well, apple has always had an interesting relationship with user groups.
00:34:11    User groups had an element of unpredictability.
00:34:15    It's been close and far.
00:34:20    << I think the mac community scares apple to a certain degree because they don't know how to "control" these people.
00:34:26    Apple is all about control now.
00:34:27    And you really can't control the user group, although they are your frontline troops.
00:34:34    << It's almost as if apple's forgotten their own roots.
00:34:37    You know how that happens?
00:34:39    And I think it's sad.

Over 15 years ago, at the dawn of the Web, Umberto Eco observed that the Mac was Catholic in its gentle, aesthetically "sumptuous" guidance, DOS Protestant in its burdens on the individual, and Windows a kind of Anglican compromise. (Linux and open source, which appeared after this essay, might be compared to the more radically democratic Reformation movements.) So perhaps the early Mac enthusiasts misunderstood the deepest foundations of Apple's culture. Wasn't Mr. Johnson's preferred metaphor, the enclosed garden, a theme of the Song of Songs that became one of the most beautiful literary and visual images of (and sometimes metaphors for) the medieval Church?

Jump to comments
Presented by

Edward Tenner is a historian of technology and culture, and an affiliate of the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School. He was a founding advisor of Smithsonian's Lemelson Center.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

From This Author

Just In